Plyometric training is an intense form of exercise that helps athletes improve the power of their movements. Unlike standard weight training, which focuses solely on increasing the strength and size of the muscles, the benefits of plyometric training are that they increase the ability of the muscles to exert force quickly. Using plyometric training benefits athletes, especially those who participate in activities that require explosion. Plyometric exercises, though, can be difficult and, if an athlete overworks himself or herself or does not perform the exercises correctly, can cause serious injury. For this reason, an athlete should incorporate plyometrics into his or her workout routine gradually.
Plyometric exercises are beneficial because they require an athlete to perform very explosive motions. By recruiting the muscle tissue quickly, the exercises increase the efficiency of the neuromuscular system. Rather than simply increasing the amount of muscle tissue on an athlete's body, then, plyometric training allows the athlete to make more efficient use of the muscle tissue that he or she already has. This makes the muscles stronger without necessarily increasing their overall mass, which allows them to move faster.
The intense strain that plyometric training puts on the body means that it is imperative that an athlete be careful not to overexercise, because this can result in injury. Plyometric training is a form of exercise that an athlete should use to supplement an existing workout rather than relying on plyometrics alone. An athlete can mix plyometrics into a weightlifting routine or add them at the end. Either way, it is important that the athlete be sure that his or her body is strong and healthy enough to endure the exercise.
If an athlete is able to perform plyometric exercises, they can be very useful for increasing athletic performance. One of the most common benefits of plyometric training is an improvement in the athlete's vertical leap, which is a measurement of how high he or she can jump. Jumping requires an explosive movement of the leg muscles, and plyometrics increase this explosiveness and thus benefit the overall height of the jump. For this reason, plyometric training can be very helpful for athletes such as basketball players and certain football players, such as wide receivers, because those activities require jumping.
Plyometric training also is important for athletes who need to be able to accelerate quickly, such as sprinters or running backs in football. Plyometrics provide some benefits for increasing an athlete's top speed, but they have a much greater impact on being able to reach top speed quickly. They also can enable an athlete to change direction well and make faster cuts while running.